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On Linux, given:

  • a device, for example /dev/sda,
  • and its major and minor numbers, for example 8, 0,

how can I know which module / driver is "driving" it?

Can I dig into /sys or /proc to discover that?

share|improve this question
Some combination of lsmod, /proc/modules and modinfo? – user61786 Apr 17 '14 at 12:34
stackoverflow.com/questions/2911050 looks the same as this question. – Michael Tomkins Apr 17 '14 at 12:45
Here also stackoverflow.com/questions/17878843/… – rMistero Apr 17 '14 at 19:37
Totor, I added the bounty because another user posted the same question because he felt that this one had not received enough attention. I asked him to delete his question and offered a bounty on this one to get more answers. Please remember to accept one of the answers below if they answer your question. – terdon Apr 24 '14 at 11:07
@terdon thanks for the bounty, it produced nice answers. I have not carefully tested everything yet, but will accept Graeme's answer in the meanwhile. – Totor Apr 30 '14 at 13:25
up vote 33 down vote accepted

To get this information from sysfs for a device file, first determine the major/minor number by looking at the output of ls -l, eg

 $ ls -l /dev/sda
 brw-rw---- 1 root disk 8, 0 Apr 17 12:26 /dev/sda

The 8, 0 tells us that major number is 8 and the minor is 0. The b at the start of the listing also tells us that it is a block device. Other devices may have a c for character device at the start.

If you then look under /sys/dev, you will see there are two directories. One called block and one called char. The no-brainer here is that these are for block and character devices respectively. Each device is then accessible by its major/minor number is this directory. If there is a driver available for the device, it can be found by reading the target of the driver link in this or the device sub-directory. Eg, for my /dev/sda I can simply do:

$ readlink /sys/dev/block/8\:0/device/driver

This shows that the sd driver is used for the device. If you are unsure if the device is a block or character device, in the shell you could simply replace this part with a *. This works just as well:

$ readlink /sys/dev/*/8\:0/device/driver

Block devices can also be accessed directly through their name via either /sys/block or /sys/class/block. Eg:

$ readlink /sys/block/sda/device/driver

Note that the existence of various directories in /sys may change depending on the kernel configuration. Also not all devices have a device subfolder. For example, this is the case for partition device files like /dev/sda1. Here you have to access the device for the whole disk (unfortunately there are no sys links for this).

A final thing which can be useful to do is to list the drivers for all devices for which they are available. For this you can use globs to select all the directories in which the driver links are present. Eg:

$ ls -l /sys/dev/*/*/device/driver ls -l /sys/dev/*/*/driver 
ls: cannot access ls: No such file or directory
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:27 /sys/dev/block/11:0/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sr
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/block/8:0/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/block/8:16/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/block/8:32/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 20:38 /sys/dev/char/189:0/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 20:38 /sys/dev/char/189:1024/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 20:38 /sys/dev/char/189:128/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 20:38 /sys/dev/char/189:256/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 20:38 /sys/dev/char/189:384/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/189:512/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/189:513/driver -> ../../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/189:514/driver -> ../../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/189:640/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/189:643/driver -> ../../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 20:38 /sys/dev/char/189:768/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 20:38 /sys/dev/char/189:896/driver -> ../../../../bus/usb/drivers/usb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/21:0/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/21:1/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:27 /sys/dev/char/21:2/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sr
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/21:3/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/250:0/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/hid/drivers/hid-generic
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/250:1/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/hid/drivers/hid-generic
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/250:2/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/hid/drivers/hid-generic
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/252:0/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/252:1/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:27 /sys/dev/char/252:2/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sr
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/252:3/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../../../bus/scsi/drivers/sd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 19:53 /sys/dev/char/254:0/device/driver -> ../../../bus/pnp/drivers/rtc_cmos
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 19:53 /sys/dev/char/29:0/device/driver -> ../../../bus/platform/drivers/simple-framebuffer
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 19:53 /sys/dev/char/4:64/device/driver -> ../../../bus/pnp/drivers/serial
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 19:53 /sys/dev/char/4:65/device/driver -> ../../../bus/platform/drivers/serial8250
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 19:53 /sys/dev/char/4:66/device/driver -> ../../../bus/platform/drivers/serial8250
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 19:53 /sys/dev/char/4:67/device/driver -> ../../../bus/platform/drivers/serial8250
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/6:0/device/driver -> ../../../bus/pnp/drivers/parport_pc
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr 17 12:26 /sys/dev/char/99:0/device/driver -> ../../../bus/pnp/drivers/parport_pc

Finally, to diverge from the question a bit, I will add another /sys glob trick to get a much broader perspective on which drivers are being used by which devices (though not necessarily those with a device file):

find /sys/bus/*/drivers/* -maxdepth 1 -lname '*devices*' -ls


Looking more closely at the output of udevadm, it appears to work by finding the canonical /sys directory (as you would get if you dereferenced the major/minor directories above), then working its way up the directory tree, printing out any information that it finds. This way you get information about parent devices and any drivers they use as well.

To experiment with this I wrote the script below to walk up the directory tree and display information at each relevant level. udev seems to look for readable files at each level, with their names and contents being incorporated in ATTRS. Instead of doing this I display the contents of the uevent files at each level (seemingly the presence of this defines a distinct level rather than just a subdirectory). I also show the basename of any subsystem links I find and this showing how the device fits in this hierarchy. udevadm does not display the same information, so this is a nice complementary tool. The parent device information (eg PCI information) is also useful if you want to match the output of other tools like lshw to higher level devices.


dev=$(readlink -m $1)

# test for block/character device
if [ -b "$dev" ]; then
elif [ -c "$dev" ]; then
  echo "$dev is not a device file" >&2
  exit 1

# stat outputs major/minor in hex, convert to decimal
data=( $(stat -c '%t %T' $dev) ) || exit 2
major=$(( 0x${data[0]} ))
minor=$(( 0x${data[1]} ))

echo -e "Given device:     $1"
echo -e "Canonical device: $dev"
echo -e "Major: $major"
echo -e "Minor: $minor\n"

# sometimes nodes have been created for devices that are not present
dir=$(readlink -f /sys/dev/$mode/$major\:$minor)
if ! [ -e "$dir" ]; then
  echo "No /sys entry for $dev" >&2
  exit 3

# walk up the /sys hierarchy one directory at a time
# stop when there are three levels left 
while [[ $dir == /*/*/* ]]; do

  # it seems the directory is only of interest if there is a 'uevent' file
  if [ -e "$dir/uevent" ]; then
    echo "$dir:"
    echo "  Uevent:"
    sed 's/^/    /' "$dir/uevent"

    # check for subsystem link
    if [ -d "$dir/subsystem" ]; then
        subsystem=$(readlink -f "$dir/subsystem")
        echo -e "\n  Subsystem:\n    ${subsystem##*/}"


  # strip a subdirectory
share|improve this answer
+1, very nice work! – slm Apr 17 '14 at 20:19
Is there any way to determine all the drivers being used? Like for example the udevadm answer will give you sd and ahci. Is there a way to determine ahci is being used as well? – Patrick Apr 17 '14 at 21:29
@Patrick, yes, updated. – Graeme Apr 18 '14 at 2:26

You can use the udevadm tool to discover this.
The command would be udevadm info -a -n /dev/sda, and then look at the DRIVER== parameters.

# udevadm info -a -n /dev/sda | grep -oP 'DRIVERS?=="\K[^"]+'  

This shows that there are actually 2 drivers involved in providing this device, sd and ahci. The first one, sd is directly responsible for the /dev/sda device, but it uses the ahci driver underneith.


The output of the udevadm command looks like this, and includes a description of how it works.

# udevadm info -a -n /dev/sda      

Udevadm info starts with the device specified by the devpath and then
walks up the chain of parent devices. It prints for every device
found, all possible attributes in the udev rules key format.
A rule to match, can be composed by the attributes of the device
and the attributes from one single parent device.

  looking at device '/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2/ata1/host0/target0:0:0/0:0:0:0/block/sda':
    ATTR{stat}=="   84786     1420  3091333    40215   966488    12528 14804028  2357668        0  1146934  2396653"
    ATTR{inflight}=="       0        0"

  looking at parent device '/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2/ata1/host0/target0:0:0/0:0:0:0':
    ATTRS{model}=="LITEONIT LMT-256"
    ATTRS{vendor}=="ATA     "

  looking at parent device '/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2/ata1/host0/target0:0:0':

  looking at parent device '/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2/ata1/host0':

  looking at parent device '/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2/ata1':

  looking at parent device '/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2':

  looking at parent device '/devices/pci0000:00':
share|improve this answer
@ECarterYoung Where are you seeing that udevadm is removed (or even recommended)? I can't find anything even giving a hint at that. – Patrick Apr 17 '14 at 21:00
@ECarterYoung I did, I see nothing of the sort. – Patrick Apr 17 '14 at 21:03
I was mistaken regarding the absence of the UEVENT_HELPER in the kernel. On systems running systemd, this entry is blank, but the helpr is still present on the system. – eyoung100 Apr 17 '14 at 21:47

Use the command hwinfo and output model and driver. If there is no driver it will not be shown. For example for disks:

# hwinfo --block | grep -Ei "driver\:|model\:"
  Model: "Floppy Disk"
  Model: "FUJITSU MHZ2080B"
  Driver: "ahci", "sd"
  Model: "Partition"
  Model: "Partition"
  Model: "Partition"
  Model: "Generic Multi-Card"
  Driver: "ums-realtek", "sd"
  Model: "Realtek USB2.0-CRW"
  Driver: "ums-realtek"

For network cards:

# hwinfo --netcard | grep -Ei "driver\:|model\:"
  Model: "Broadcom NetXtreme BCM5764M Gigabit Ethernet PCIe"
  Driver: "tg3"
  Model: "Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100"
  Driver: "iwlwifi"

For USB devices:

# hwinfo --usb | grep -Ei "driver\:|model\:"
  Model: "Linux 3.11.10-7-desktop uhci_hcd UHCI Host Controller"
  Driver: "hub"
  Model: "Linux 3.11.10-7-desktop uhci_hcd UHCI Host Controller"
  Driver: "hub"
  Model: "IDEACOM IDC 6680"
  Driver: "usbhid"

Use hwinfo --help to find out what other device types you can query. hwinfo is installed by default e.g. on SUSE Linux.

share|improve this answer
To relate this to a particular device file, one way is to add the --only option. Eg hwinfo --block --only /dev/sda | grep .... – Graeme Apr 25 '14 at 11:05

lshw is an awesome tool to list the hardware found in your machine. You will have to install it first before running.

$ yum install lshw
$ apt-get install lshw

Use yum or apt-get depending on the system you are using. Then to specifically list the storage hardware:

# lshw -class storage 
   description: SATA controller
   product: 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset 4 port SATA AHCI Controller
   vendor: Intel Corporation
   physical id: 1f.2
   bus info: pci@0000:00:1f.2
   version: 06
   width: 32 bits
   clock: 66MHz
   capabilities: storage msi pm ahci_1.0 bus_master cap_list
   configuration: driver=ahci latency=0
   resources: irq:41 ioport:1830(size=8) ioport:1824(size=4) ioport:1828(size=8) ioport:1820(size=4) ioport:1800(size=32) memory:f0305000-f03057ff

You may want to run it as root to get all the information back.

Otherwise, lspci can also give information about your hardware:

$ lspci -vv
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset 4 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 06) (prog-if 01 [AHCI 1.0])
    Subsystem: Dell Device 0434
    Control: I/O+ Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx+
    Status: Cap+ 66MHz+ UDF- FastB2B+ ParErr- DEVSEL=medium >TAbort- <TAbort- <MAbort- >SERR- <PERR- INTx-
    Latency: 0
    Interrupt: pin B routed to IRQ 41
    Region 0: I/O ports at 1830 [size=8]
    Region 1: I/O ports at 1824 [size=4]
    Region 2: I/O ports at 1828 [size=8]
    Region 3: I/O ports at 1820 [size=4]
    Region 4: I/O ports at 1800 [size=32]
    Region 5: Memory at f0305000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=2K]
    Capabilities: <access denied>
    Kernel driver in use: ahci

To find out the major and minor number of a device, just run ls on it.

$ ls -l /dev/sda
brw-rw----. 1 root disk 8, 0 13 avril 10:54 /dev/sda

In this output, the b in brw-rw----. means that this is a block device. The digits 8 and 0 are respectively the major and minor number of the device.

share|improve this answer
My question is about finding the link between one device and its module / driver. Where do you answer that? – Totor Apr 18 '14 at 7:26
@Totor In both output of lshw and lspci you can see the module used by a device: configuration: driver=ahci latency=0 and Kernel driver in use: ahci. – Spack Apr 18 '14 at 12:20

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